Are we still moving, as Albert Wendt called for in 1976, ‘Towards a New Oceania’? Has this new Oceania turned tides and become a ‘niu’ Oceania? In what ways and for what purposes? Wendt’s seminal treatise on the development of Pacific Arts and Criticism lay an elemental foundation for those in the Pacific to develop their creative and critical voices in a post-colonial (where ‘post’ means ‘before’, ‘during’ and ‘after’ colonialism) Pacific. Wendt’s article poses questions that remain relevant today:
• With over 1200 indigenous languages in our region, “plus English, French, Hindi, Spanish and various forms of pidgin” how do we “catch and interpret the Void”?
• “What is authentic culture?”
• How have contemporary writers and artists drawn on the “fabulous treasure house of traditional motifs, themes, styles, material” to “express our uniqueness, identity, pain, joy, and our own visions of Oceania and earth”?
This SPACLALS (South Pacific Association for Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies) Hui investigates and celebrates Pacific Arts and Criticism by inviting submissions (critical papers, creative performances, workshops) that addresses a question above or engages with any of the following elemental themes and lines of enquiry:
EARTH: Examines the grassroots issues in the teaching and politics surrounding Pacific Literature (What Pacific Literature gets taught in our educational institutions? How do we best teach it? How do we best disseminate it? How do we get it published?)
FIRE: Fires up creative expression in literature (poetry, fiction, drama) and the arts (dance, song, sculpture) and asks “What makes this ‘niu’?” How is creative practice imbued with a sense of place, history, identity?
WATER: Our bodies are more water than blood. In what ways do both water (ocean) and blood (genealogy) carry the currents of contemporary identity-based enquiry?
AIR: Wind, breathe, word. What aesthetics from oral traditions and culture-based performance have been adapted in our contemporary critical and creative environment (spoken word poetry, dance, photography, the fine arts, sculpture, critical practice?)
Vitally, part of our ongoing decolonisation means interrogating the boundaries that often exist between institutions and the community; between academia and creativity. The promotion, teaching, creation and dissemination of Pacific literature, arts, and criticism entail a holistic, grassroots approach that acknowledges the ‘Va’, the inter-relational connection between the scholarly and the creative. Therefore, critical and creative submissions will be interwoven throughout the hui. There will be a creative ‘call and response’ sharing on Thursday night, with finale performance event on Friday night.
This hui offers total immersion, total fun, and a totally ‘niu’ way of investigating and celebrating Pacific literature, its arts and its criticism. It will be valuable to the Professional Development of anyone working and teaching in a Pacific environment. It will also nourish and reinvigorate an existing network of Pacific writers, performers, artists and critics, and hopefully, inspire some new/niu contributors.
Our keynote speaker is Maualaivao Albert Wendt.
SPAN, the journal of SPACLALS, will publish conference proceedings.
Venue and registration details to be advised. We will be endeavoring to minimize conference registration fees for Under 25s and students.
We invite paper and creative proposals by 30 APRIL 2013.
For conference paper submissions please send to Dr Selina Tusitala Marsh, Chair of SPACLALS:[email protected] with the subject heading SPACLALS HUI SUBMISSION.
For all creative submissions (performances) and workshop proposals, please send to Grace Taylor[email protected] with the subject heading SPACLALS HUI SUBMISSION.
Fa’afetai tele lava
Featured image by samoanbios.com